Monday, October 20, 2008

Lost In Renovation

"In 1992, UNESCO bestowed World Heritage upon Cesky Krumlov, thus recognising the effort, skill and love with which our ancestors built this town. It is up to us to maintain and preserve their 800 years worth of work."

- what I remember from a plaque in the Old Town Square (not accurate)

I've just spent my last $150 on a Caesar salad and a Gambrinus. Actually, that's not true. I did have $1 left, but I gave it to the barkeeper as tips. You've got to share the wealth around, after all. 

I've had another look around Cesky Krumlov, in the harsh light of day. It's an exceptionally pretty town, but it's been given the Maybelene treatment - the facades are way too colourful,the streets a bit too quaint, and the paving stones are a tad too well maintained. It's kind of what you'd expect Disney would build, if they had a mind to build a fake medieval town in the middle of Anaheim. 

It's really quite interesting because the town's about 75% of the way through its makeover. The main streets are finished, and most of the town square. But if you duck through a couple of side streets, you can still catch a glimpse of what it must've been like before UNESCO. The grey concrete facades are cracked, the windows are broken and the houses actually look like they've been there for hundreds of years.

It's quite interesting to see the contrast. And it's a bit sad that it's all going to be wiped out soon. In ten years, the whole place will be dolled up and pretty and touristy. And while it's nice to stroll around narrow cobble-stoned streets and take in breathtakingly beautiful views of the river, I can't help but feel something's being lost in the renovations. 

Don't get me wrong, it's a ridiculously pretty town. Here's proof:

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